Influence of pH on radical reactions between kynurenic acid and amino acids tryptophan and tyrosine. Part I. Amino acids in free state

Yuliya S. Zhuravleva, Peter S. Sherin

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2 Citations (Scopus)


In the human eye lens the endogenous chromophores of UV-A light (315–400 nm) are able to sensitize radical reactions leading to protein modifications during normal aging and the cataract progression. Kynurenic acid (KNA) is the most photochemically active dye of the human eye lens reported to date with pKa(KNAH2) 5.5 for its radical form. Cataract is thought to develop under oxidative stress which could be accompanied by acidosis, an acidification of the intracellular environment. Protonation of kynurenyl radicals at mildly acidic conditions may change the outcome of radical reactions leading to additional damage to proteins. In this work we investigated the influence of pH on the degradation of initial reagents and the formation of products in photoinduced radical reactions between KNA and amino acids tryptophan (Trp) and tyrosine (Tyr) in free states. Our results have shown that pH variation has minor influence on kinetics of reagent decay and accumulation of products in reactions between tyrosyl and kynurenic acid radicals. However in the case of Trp a two-fold decrease of the reagent degradation without visible changes in the composition of formed products was observed with pH decrease from 7 to 3. Time-resolved measurements have shown similar acidification-induced two-fold acceleration of decay of kynurenyl and tryptophanyl radicals via Back Electron Transfer (BET) with the restoration of initial reagents. Experiments with tryptophan derivatives with different pKa values for their radical forms point out the protonation of tryptophanyl radical as the driving force for BET acceleration at low pH. Our results demonstrate that the protonation of kynurenyl radical does not change its reactivity towards amino acids radicals but the total yield of radical photodamage decreases with the protonation of tryptophanyl radicals. It could be expected that radical induced damage to proteins will depend on the pKa of tryptophanyl radicals within a protein globule.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)331-339
Number of pages9
JournalFree Radical Biology and Medicine
Publication statusPublished - 20 Aug 2021


  • Back electron transfer
  • Kynurenic acid
  • Protonation
  • Radicals
  • Tryptophan
  • Tyrosine
  • UV-A light
  • Free Radicals
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Kynurenic Acid
  • Humans
  • Amino Acids
  • Kinetics
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration




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